Start Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
Location: Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington WV
TV: Fox Sports Net
Series Record: Marshall leads the series 1-0, which came all the way back in 1988, a 7-0 scorcher. This is their first meetings as conference rivals.
Live Stats: Marshall fans go here, North Texas fans go here.
Betting Line: Marshall -29, O/U -110
North Texas Outlook:
Last week against WKU, the Mean Green maxed out with 28 points against the Hilltoppers' admittedly porous defense. New starting QB Damarcus Smith was 17/35 (49%), which is not great but still better than Andrew McNulty. That also included 228 yards and four touchdowns, and while that's not good enough to beat Marshall, it IS a step in the right direction. Smith was also the leading rusher against the Hilltoppers, taking 16 carries for 122 yards.
More interesting was receiver Carlos Harris, who only caught the ball four times for 43 yards, second most yards on the day. Why is this interesting? Because that brings Harris to 40 receptions on the season for 512 yards... compared to Marshall's top receiver Deandre Reaves, who has 22 receptions on the season for 315 yards.
This is encouraging, and honestly North Texas showed enough life last weekend that we can safely say they're in better shape now with Mike Canales than they were under any head coach since 2006. With this game as a tune-up, both teams are on target for a wild November, that's for sure.
On defense, there's not much to say; the head coach was already out and defensive coordinator Chris Cosh was promoted to Interim Co-Head Coach, then demoted back to DC. North Texas has given up 301 points so far this season, and it's unlikely any coaching roulette is going to change that much.
Through three conference games, UNT has given up 142 points, which is 15 more than Charlotte. We're done here.
Marshall appears to have found something that adds another level of danger to its attack: an identity. For the first time this season, the right hand appeared to know what the left was doing and the numbers started pilling up. Marshall broke the 500-yard mark last week as the Herd’s rushing attack (326) nearly outgained the FAU's total (334) offensive production. Devon Johnson cruised to a 75-yard touchdown on the second play of the game and Hyleck Foster tallied 122 yards in his first game in the backfield since high school.
Chase Litton showed us he is the quarterback of the future for the Herd, and is showing he is ready to take the keys to the offense; this week could be the perfect week for a test drive. Deandre Reaves has shown he is the leader of the Herd’s air attack with Ryan Yurachek doing everything a great tight end is expected to do. While the Herd has been able to execute over the middle of the field, the deep ball is missing and the drops have been too often, limiting production through the air.
When it seems like the defensive unit cannot do anything better, it does, and last week was no different. Nyquan Harris forced a safety in the first quarter and the defense held its opponent to only seven points in the second half for a second consecutive week, to go with zero third down conversions by FAU in that time. Tiquan Lang recorded his second double-digit tackling effort and as a team, Marshall recorded six tackles for loss.
Nearly a third of the Herd’s tackles came from the defensive front with Steve Dillon and Jarquez Samuel leading the charge. The Herd’s secondary continues to play with a "bend-but-don’t-break" mentality, and Rodney Allen hauled in his second interception in as many weeks while continuing to make the transition from receiver to corner.
Adam: This is the hardest season on record to be "glass half-full" for UNT. The coach this week is better, the starters are better, they are moving in the right direction. Scoring 28 points was an improvement last week and we hope to see more of that this week.
HOWEVER, remember that 66-7 drubbing a few weeks ago at the hands of Portland State? That Vikings squad had the best defense in the Big Sky, shutting down teams that included Pac-12 Washington State, so only a touchdown for UNT was actually kind of impressive, even if it was during garbage time.
Well, the best defense in Conference USA belongs to Marshall, who allows an average of 17.4 a game. The spread on this one is 29, which would be a couple touchdowns low if its similar to previous games. Expect another thrashing, but at least it won't be as ugly as the Portland State game.
Marshall 52, UNT 10
James: This game should be over by the first half, but due to the Herd being plagued with injuries, it won’t be as far out of reach as many may expect.
Johnson is day to day, Remi Watson is questionable, Tony Pittman is still sidelined and Clint Van Horn remains out. Marshall needs rest and North Texas is just what the doctor ordered, but don’t expect a complete shellacking by the Herd. It’s homecoming weekend in Huntington and the fans are hungry for a big number on the scoreboard, but this week won’t be it. Marshall rolls early in the contest with the backups toting the load in the second half.
Marshall 37 North Texas 7